Flagging off the new year and setting the tone for the impending high-stake Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared in an arguably scripted interview with ANI on Tuesday, addressing critical issues including Ram
The interview has drawn heavy criticism from the opposition and masses alike, for avoiding difficult questions and follow-ups, proving yet again that controlled communication is a characteristic of the BJP government. The Congress called it “fixed” and full of rhetoric, immediately after the interview was broadcast by various television channels and was shared all across social media.
This comes nearly a month after BJP lost three key states in the Assembly elections held last year, and just weeks after the BJP had mocked former PM Manmohan Singh as the silent PM, who fired back saying that unlike Modi, he had never avoided addressing a press conference.
In fact, Modi’s is the first Indian government to have refused
Here are a few key takeaways from the much discussed interview:
On losing to Congress
Over the 95-minute long interview with ANI‘s editor, Smita Prakash, Modi brushed aside most questions dealing with his party’s prospects in the upcoming polls, especially in light of the recent setbacks in three major states.
“In Telangana and Mizoram, nobody gave the BJP any chance or even thought that we would form
He vehemently attacked Congress, especially the “first family” — the Gandhis. Accusing them of being out on bail and facing charges of financial irregularities, Modi said, “The family that was once considered the first family of the country, that ruled the country for four generations, has to walk around on bail, that too on charges of financial irregularities. That is a big thing.”
When asked about his agenda to make India “Congress-free”, Modi answered, “Even Congress people say Congress is a soch (thought), a culture. That culture is casteism, dynastic politics, undemocratic, nepotism. Congress represents this culture. When I say Congress-mukt, I want to rid the country from this culture and this sort of thinking. And I have even gone to say that Congress too needs to be free of this Congress culture.”
He further expressed full confidence in his return to power this year, stating he had full faith in the country’s voters. The prime minister insisted that the nation will vote for a party which has proved capable of and will continue fulfilling their promises. “In 2019, if there is one party which the country trusts and is connected with the people, it is the BJP,” he claimed in the interview.
“There is no reason for low morale in the BJP. The BJP has confidence in the people and the people have confidence in the BJP,” Modi said.
On facing the mahagathbandhan
Claiming that the 2019 elections would ultimately be a face-off between the
“When they say this [Modi wave/Modi magic] … that means people are admitting Modi wave,” he further remarked when asked about the relentless criticism he has been getting ever since the recent losses. Further underestimating widespread political criticism against his governance and certain policies, Modi dismissively said, “Experts will say all kinds of things, to defend their position and drive their narrative. But we should never underestimate the political understanding of the common man.”
“The people will decide whether or not they should ally with these forces of corruption who are coming together. Therefore, it is going to be Janta versus Gathbandhan,” Modi asserted.
On building the Ram Mandir
Modi also accused the Congress leadership of
On scams and scamsters
The PM also drew attention to the clean chit given by the Supreme Court in the Rafale deal dispute as well as the statements issued by the French President dismissing claims of any mala fide intentions. He accused the opposition of weakening the army by attacking the deal.
Modi further denied charges that the Union government had failed to bring back alleged economic offenders like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, and Mehul Choksi to India.
“Why did they run away from the country? They ran away because they knew that they will have to pay every penny back. The government is making diplomatic efforts to get them back. We also made stringent laws which
On demonetisation, triple talaq and surgical strikes
PM Modi also tackled criticism of the 2016
Modi’s stance on the Sabarimala and triple talaq issues further brought to light the polarising and often self-contradictory nature of his party’s ideologies when he claimed that the question of women’s entry into the temple was grounded in Hindu (religious) values, but
On surgical strikes, he accused the opposition once again of demeaning our armed forces. “There are some political parties who began to speak the same language as Pakistan,” he said, “These parties were demeaning our armed forces. They politicised such an issue. As the PM, I will always appreciate the armed forces.”
Besides informing that inflation was at a low, he also addressed allegations of corruption in public office. On loan waivers, he acknowledged how inextricably linked the issue is with the outcome of the polls. “We should also be thinking about structural issues — how can we empower the farmers, ensure more water, greater credit, better markets,” he said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the prime minister should have spoken about his 10 big promises — 15 lakh in every bank account, bringing back 80 lakh crore of black money, 2 crore jobs per year, cost and 50
Other ignored topics, on the part of the PM as well as the interviewer, included growing communalism, nationalism, fake news, cow vigilantism, and self-reflexively, his evasion of press conferences. Although Modi is quite active on social media, this form of communication is largely disseminatory and leaves very little scope for debate.
Modi also addresses a monthly radio show “Mann ki Baat” where too, the conversation with listeners is scripted. On the rare occasions that Modi grants an interview, it is usually to sympathetic interviewers such as Arnab Goswami, or Malvika Kumar and Rahul Shivshankar.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma dared him to face the parliament and a press conference, further attacking the prime minister over politicising the surgical strikes, saying “it is a national shame that the prime minister seeks to
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.